common man

A Common Indian’s Perspective of Covid-19’s Impact on The Country

As I put on my mask, and step out of my house for the first time in five days to get groceries, I cannot help but keep thinking about these last three months of 2020 that have reshaped society in lasting ways. Right from how we travel, to whether or not we invest in mutual funds, how much government surveillance we are willing to accept, and even how much compassion we show to our maids, drivers and other caretakers.

A serious virus has kept us all imprisoned in our homes for more than a month now – and maybe for more weeks to come—and has completely reoriented the common Indian’s relationship with its immediate ecosystem, its businesses and economy, its own government, governments outside of our borders, and more importantly, with each other. These changes feel extremely unsettling, but more than that, they raise questions like – will this permanently change the notion of what India is?

Take for instance our relationship with our government. Over the last few years, Indians have become more polarized than ever. After winning the general elections last year, the BJP-led government managed to conveniently put governance and economy on the back burner, and leverage its political capital to stay relevant and sway the masses. A key religious dispute – Ayodhya Ram mandir – that kept dividing us over decades also saw closure. But now, amidst this global pandemic, we have now all turned towards a common enemy. It has brought governance and economy back in the limelight. So much that even Yogi Adityanath was heavily criticised for shifting a statue of Lord Ram amid the lockdown, and even the ‘Hindu card’ that is used so often couldn’t help the politician. Not that we will become les communal after all this ends, but maybe we will be better able to see how all our fates are actually linked.

The virus is also changing India’s definition of patriotism significantly. Once completely reliant on our armed forces, we have now started to recognize other heroes too – doctors, nurses, pharmacists, grocery vendors, farmers, teachers, caregivers, small-business owners. Perhaps, this shift will be more permanent, and help us cultivate the idea of peace and health, over war with other supposed enemies.

This crisis has also fundamentally changed the way Indian businesses operate. It’s not to say that we don’t function the same way as our global peers – we are a hotbed of business innovation. However, as Indians, our dominant method of working has always been heavily reliant on physical interactions with employees, clients and other stakeholders important to our business. Of course, we consider the digital as an important part of growing business, but never have we been forced this way to completely reorient our style of working. It has made us realise the benefits of remote working, the flexibile use of technology, and how a WhatsApp call can also be used to connect with colleagues and clients, and not just our friends, or our grandparents for a tête-à-tête.

And above all this, what Coronavirus has definitely changed for Indians is our social interactions. We now share a revived appreciation for the outdoors, conversations with neighbors, gossips over evening tea and life’s other simple, but delightful pleasures. Indians are used to placing a certain amount of mistrust in everyone they meet; what if they are talking to us with the intention to steal or harm? This is our common worry. But now, everyone has suddenly developed a shared sense of empathy, probably arising out of a shared misery.

I don’t know what will come in the time ahead, but I am sure that we are all currently taking the best strike at the unknown. When the crisis ends, I hope that we will be able to reorient our Indian ideologies to make substantial new advancements into a better future. And even, hopefully, help us rediscover the best version of our Indian-ness.

Brand Loyalty

Brand Loyalty in The Times of Corona

Amidst the outbreak of the deadly Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), there is one aspect of our daily lives that has been hit in a unique way. As people become more anxious by the day, fearing for the safety and health of themselves and their loved ones, brand loyalty towards FMCG goods, ones that are needs the most right now, has surely gone for a toss.

Reports of hoarding and siege of convenience stores are not new, as most customers are now keeping stockpiles of everyday goods in preparation for a prolonged period of lockdown. What this has done is that it has created scarcity of the usual branded products that you may have been using all this while. And since manufacturing has also slowed down due to the pandemic, the new stock is also unlikely to come by.

Owing to this, people have started ditching their usual brand of daily FMCG products, and are opting for those that are readily available instead. In fact, regional FMCG brands are seemingly outdoing market leaders, mostly because of their flexible supply chains, according to multiple media reports. And since people are now buying whatever is available, brand loyalty has weakened. Some of the top most names in categories such as aata, rice, edible oil, pulses, home products, have lost almost 15% to 20% market share.

And there’s ample data to back this up. According to a McKinsey study, two-thirds of consumers have tried alternatives during the lockdown, and 10% of them don’t intend to go back to their original choice. Another Nielsen study shows that market share of the top three hand sanitiser brands fell from 85% in February to 39% in March as 152 new players entered the segment. In addition to this, share of top three packaged rice brands in modern trade fell from 72% in February to 64% in March, while 65% grocers and 33% chemists are sourcing products from wholesalers at higher rates.

Does this pose a risk to the meticulously created brand image of the biggest FMCG behemoths in the country? Most definitely. The way dynamics have been reversed during this pandemic has unveiled new layers of consumer behaviour that we haven’t seen before. Especially with social distancing and time restrictions on how long a consumer can stand at a shop to buy products, this becomes even more pronounced. So, if one shop runs out of your favourite rice brand because you were too far behind in the line, you won’t go back without buying rice, will you? Instead, you will probably ask to see another brand. That is what is happening in grocery shops across the country right now. Brand loyalty loses its charm right there and then.

Many will argue that this is a short-term thing. But if the situation persists, and a consumer starts to like the alternate brand that they have been using for two months or more, they might even switch their loyalties. It will be a big task again for the big brands to devise newer marketing strategies to attract all the consumers they have lost during this time.

It may even lead to emergence of new and innovative products in the market, alongside a drastic change in habit. Most likely, this will make competition even more tough in the future for FMCG companies. It will be interesting to watch how big companies navigate a dynamic and changing retail landscape, to compete with the emerging, and more relevant smaller companies.

Linkedin Article 2

What Brands are Doing to Up Their Game During Coronavirus

The world is staring at what is possibly the biggest turning point in history; almost as big as the World wars. And while global economies, communities, and businesses continue to reel under the impact of lockdowns imposed in several countries, one can only wonder how significantly this is going to impact the landscape of brand advertisement.

Being extra sensitive and showing empathy seems to be the key to winning the game of advertising during this phase. Everyone is taking it upon themselves to be the harbinger of awareness and sensitivity. But while also having some good fun and showcasing their creativity to the fullest. Here are some of our favourite takes.

1. Adhesive brand Fevicol conducted a masterful and creative digital campaign around social distancing. It shows two elephants pulling away from each other with the line “Kal ke mazboot jod ke liye, aaj thodi doori maintain karona.” Not only were they one of the firsts to dit, but also did it with much aplomb!


2. We know you all miss Italy. The country has been among the worst affected during this period of Corona crisis. And while none of us might be able to travel to the country for the foreseeable future, they have ensured that we don’t miss out on its wonders either. Vienna Tourism had an extremely clever post on armchair tourism and how the city’s museums and splendors can be accessed from the comfort of homes with an access link provided. Using the hashtag #ViennaWaitsForYou, there creatives take people on a splendid virtual tour.

3. Fast food chain McDonald’s also launched a global social media campaign, splitting the letter M in its logo to convey and promote the message of social distancing. The restaurant chain, through its social media handles including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, urged citizens to avoid stepping out of their homes.

4. The aviation industry has generally been a big trendsetter in this aspect. A few days ago, Indigo poked some harmless fun at Vistara with a quirky tweet stating “Not flying higher these days we heard?”, with the hashtag #StayingParkedStayingSafe. Other Indian airlines were quick to join the conversation with their own witty comebacks, with Delhi Airport finally rounding up the conversation with a hopeful-for-the-future kind of tweet. They not only conveyed the importance of staying home, but also kept themselves relevant in the audience’s mind through a unique take on the current situation.

Which of these is your favourite?

Education Blog 3

The Evolution of Marketing Education and Its Growing Importance

There was a time when advertising and marketing for institutions as revered as colleges and schools was considered blasphemy. Most educational institutions would avoid these ‘salespeople’ altogether, dismissing them as not suitable for the intellectual bastion of society. Education was never equated with business. It was always about recommendations, counselling, and advising students about enrolling at a certain place. Administrators would opine that whether a student chose to attend their university or someone else’s was based more on either legacy, or what the student wanted to learn. Any mention of trying to sell the ‘brand’ was frowned upon.

Not just that, in terms of choices, students had few. Whether they were courses or colleges, there wasn’t much to choose from. You either went where your parents and grandparents did, or somewhere that fit your budget or was close to your home.

Fast forward to a decade later, and now we have a growing acceptance, and even appreciation for how marketing can work wonders for running an educational institution, especially when thousands of schools and colleges are now competing with each other. Moreover, today, educational hubs are also businesses; the Indian education sector is a multi-billion-dollar industry in itself. The word marketing has finally made its way into the campus lexicon.

If you look around, many universities regularly advertise themselves in all leading publications in the country. One may argue that most advertisements are run by private universities, but that’s not true. Even the older, more well-known institutions like the IITs, IIMs, ISB, Delhi University leave no stone unturned in promoting themselves. Whether it is through online ads, participation in rankings on digital and print platforms, the more traditional ‘flyers’ and ‘posters’, or television ads, everyone is doing everything. A lot of universities now even have a head of marketing, or an agency on board to take care of all their promotional needs.

And rightly so. The rigour behind operational efficiencies and performance measurement across universities is much higher than it used to be. Marketing helps manage reputations, achieve enrollment targets, raise funds, hire staff, build community perspective, and even align with key government initiatives. Universities now have to match pace with mainstream, cultural and technological evolution of education. Plus, most universities or schools operate in a similar market and have almost the same consumers, and marketing helps them stand out from the crowd.

More access to information and globalization also means that distance and awareness about options is not a challenge anymore. So increasingly, parents and students are exploring options outside their immediate ecosystem.

And now, with a global crisis hanging on our heads, the role of education is changing drastically. The rapid spread of Coronavirus has changed how millions of children around the globe are educated. With most educational institutions moving their classes online for the foreseeable future, we will witness unprecedented innovations in education. More than theoretical knowledge, students will now lean towards educational institutes that offer avenues of problem solving, creative thinking and most importantly, imbibe adaptability for an unforeseen future.

The pace of change in academic institutions globally has been tediously slow, but we might now see innovative solutions in a short period of time. Which means, now more than ever, educational institutions will have to rely on strong marketing tactics to survive, and thrive. Marketing will not only help them stay on track with their initiatives, but also streamline their processes to ensure they keep moving forward with positive progress in education.

Pivotals Blog 2

Oh Those Conversations!

The steady rise in coronavirus cases across the world has had a far-reaching effect on everything we have known so far. Jittery people have resorted to panic buying, businesses have come crumbling down, travel plans have been put on hold, and we now refuse to shake hands with anyone.

But if we had to choose one thing that we miss the most, it would easily be the change in way we interact with each other. And no, we are not talking about office meetings turning to Zoom calls, but the other humdrum, daily conversations that added spark to our lives.

Daily haggle with the auto-wallah

Everyone who can relate to the daily struggle of finding an auto every morning say ‘Aye!’

Walking down to the auto stand, and pleading with the auto driver to take us to the nearest metro station. Pleas turning to desperation, then anger and eventual quarrel over how ‘aap toh loot lo bas hume’, and ‘bhaiya meter se kyu nahi chalte?!’ Eventually resigning to their demands, because you’re already late for work, and then promising yourself you’ll wake up early tomorrow. As if that’s ever going to happen.

Giggle sessions with colleague sitting next to you

Remember all the times when you waited with hawk eyes for your boss to leave the room, before you swiveled towards your colleague to gossip and giggle about everything under the sun? How about all the times when you would be dedicatedly focused on finishing your work, but were incessantly poked into yet another silly conversation by your colleague? Those were the best days of our lives! (cue Bryan Adams music)

Chai (and sutte) pe charcha

You knew it’s time for a break when a weary colleague would turn their head towards the familiar aroma of tea wafting from the pantry, and then signal others while pointing towards the roof. Everyone would suddenly stop typing, grab their packet of ‘lights’ or ‘milds’ and head towards fresh air. These breaks that brought out the funny side of everyone, as they exchanged tales from the night before, complained about work, and undertook dramatic narrations of daily life struggles.

Excuse me, as I go wipe a tear.

Content Marketing

How to up your content marketing game

You are not creating content for yourself; you are creating content for someone else. If you remember this golden rule, you will be more successful at creating and marketing content that is relevant to your consumers. So, stay abreast of all the trends and do these things to better your content game –

Control your narrative

The biggest change in content marketing over the past decade is that the number of brands and marketers attempting it has increased manifold. The secret is out; content marketing works. So, get this. Your brand will work only if you manage to tell your story the way you want it to be read. Since there is much more competition for attention than there was 10 years ago, it is crucial to create a niche for yourself and own it. Although, this is a long-drawn process and might take more time. For someone who wants faster results, there is always a way to leverage earned and paid media like influencer marketing and native advertising to promote your content.

Link journalism and content marketing

If we were having this conversation 10 years ago, we would have absolutely sided with the statement that journalism and content marketing only overlap at places. However, we are now in 2020, and let us tell you this – journalism and content marketing are inseparable. One can’t exist without the help of the many tools that the other offers. Those in journalism will understand. Even those in content marketing need to learn some of the ropes of journalism to be able to create quality content. While journalism purists will have to set aside their ego, and dabble in the tricks of content marketing to be able to better promote their quality content.

Live in the moment (Moment Marketing)

If you are an avid marketer, you will surely remember that famous Paytm tweet that took the internet by storm during the announcement of demonetization in 2016. No? Let us refresh your memory. Paytm simply put out this tweet that also included their tagline, while commenting on the situation.


There is probably no better example to explain the phenomenon called Moment Marketing – one that has come to the fore in recent years but has surpassed all forms of creative digital strategy. Today, it’s not enough to simply run static, standardized digital campaigns and expect to reap tremendous ROI. Across mediums, brands are beginning to take cognizance of staying updated with the times and creating content that take current events into consideration.

Moment Marketing initially began as a way of connecting with viewers both online and offline. Today, as most of our audience moves online, Moment Marketing has evolved to create exciting campaigns or just single ads that encapsulate a current event to help brands reach a new and wider set of audience and not just their existing one. And it’s easy to join the bandwagon, too. All you have to do is monitor viral trends, create an interesting piece of content around it, and sit back and wait as users make it popular.

Having said all of this, it is also important for brands to create content that is true to what they stand for. Because if all you talk about are trends, consumers will fail to associate you strongly with one particular product, service or cause. It’s easy to get carried away by trends, but always remember to place relevance over everything else for purposeful consumer engagement.

Contextual Campaigns

Content is everywhere. We have now reached a point where almost everything around us involves content. In fact, marketers have already begun to collaborate with IT and product groups in an effort to create content based on the way people live their lives, what they do, and where they are when doing it.

Which means a good opportunity for you to grab. Contextual content marketing is the placement of ad campaigns on websites or site pages that are directly relevant to the ad you’re running. If you’re selling a Mixer, for instance, you might try to have it placed on sites listing recipes for cakes, microwaves, breads, recipe sites, etc, who basically might utilize mixers frequently.

Stop existing in silos

Content marketing is gradually taking a narrower approach. This means that as more B2B brands start account-based marketing, there’s a need to provide more targeted and tailored content to fit the needs of their target accounts. The role of marketing and sales are also becoming closer than ever. So, as a content marketer, you will have to ensure that you align closely with your sales teams to create content that resonates with certain segments.

The content you create today will decide whether it is impactful enough to not just communicate your message to your consumers, but also educate them, and persuade them to purchase your products and services over your competition. No matter what you do, or where you reach 10 years from now, creating high-quality content will never go out of style.

Pivotals Content

Why Content Will Always Be King

The phrase ‘content is king’ is cliché and worn out. Don’t we all hate it when we hear it being repeated at meetings, social media advertisements, and practically everywhere else? But, let’s face it, content in all its current forms is indeed the definition of the word king: “something preeminent in its class.”

So, why and how exactly has content managed to retain its crown over the years? There are a number of reasons for this. The first is obviously the benefits of content marketing, the trump card for all marketing initiatives. Afterall, it centres around the customer, without giving itself all the limelight. It does not interrupt people, but intends to attract them. It’s basically more about them, and not you. Obviously, then they love it.

The other reason for content being so popular through the ages is the fact that both content and the medium through t which it is disseminated, have been democratized. Blame it on the ‘kids these days’ or their damn smartphones, anyone with a device that enables them to consume content is capable of getting it where they want it, and whenever they find time. The massive amount of digital content that is being created, exchanged, and consumed is growing every day, across the world. The fact that easy and cheap access to the Internet has democratized access to creation and distribution platforms, has blurred the boundaries between professional and amateur content.

The Evolution of Content

Imagine Facebook without content. How about Twitter? Or LinkedIn and Instagram? What about your television sets, Netflix subscriptions, billboards? What would they all look like if they didn’t have content? There would just exist as blank spaces that no one would visit, because well, why should they if there’s nothing to see.

All of your social media is basically content. Your blog or website is content. Even paid media – advertising – depends on content. Yes, there is some creative involved, but they are still primarily content.

How did we reach here?

For many years, marketers had been pushing out messages to consumers – through commercials at sporting events, radio jingles, ads on your TV, and in newspapers. However, this type of communication of content was only one way, and purely focused on the product. So, when the mobile phone and Internet arrived, the entire process of content generation and dissemination changed drastically.

Personal blogging first took off way back in 2002, with people turning a hobby into a career. Different styles of blogging emerged one after the other. Thanks to the rise of personal blogging, marketers then began to understand how quality content, relevance, keyword research and paid ads could help them increase traffic to their websites, while also generating leads. Eventually, content marketing and SEO struck a deal to create the perfect balance, as Google got smarter with every algorithm update. Consumers now had a way to instantly communicate with each other. And with the advent of instant messaging apps like WhatsApp, these conversations also began to happen in groups.

Brands realized that now the consumer needed to do all the talking. If you notice, over the last decade or so, there has been a massive shift in brand communication from marketer to the consumer. Consumers can now shut out unnecessary content, and choose exactly what they want to consume. Today, individuals who post good content on their social media channels have started drawing followers, and have been acknowledged by brands as influencers or digital brand ambassadors.

We have been seeing this steady rise in the culture of content because everyone is now creating content. Some skeptical people might just shrug it off as, but as more and more channels and mediums proliferate our lives, consumers are soon going to become the voice of a brand; it’s going to be invariably good for marketers.

Additionally, now content is becoming more important than ever because digital advertising such as banners, videos, and other formats are becoming less efficient. Notice how more people are now starting to use ad blockers? According to research, around 30% of all internet users now use ad blockers, which can be problematic for businesses trying to reach their audiences, and tech platforms looking to demonstrate the value of their ad tools. So, we are all faced with the challenge of finding more innovative ways to reach out to people, and unique and impactful content is the only key.

The importance of good content

Now that we have demonstrated the evolution of content’s importance in our lives, let’s get into why exactly is it good for us.

Better SEO and More Traffic

Great quality, and non-plagiarized content on any of your brand’s communication channels – blogs, social media, etc. – can have a significant impact on SEO and search engine ranking. Firstly, when you publish more unique content, link them methodically to internal content, and add relevant keywords, it helps your brand website rank organically for relevant search terms and keywords. A higher ranking means more exposure for your brand, which means more consumers (digital) with interest in your industry will be able to reach out to you. And secondly, consistently publishing good content will help you create more authority in your space.

Not just that, good content is also a great way to drive more traffic to your brand through different mediums like website or social media platforms. So, for instance, good content will keep consumers on the site for longer. If you have a website with an onsite blog full of engaging content, it will create a lasting impression on the consumer and encourage them keep coming back for more.

Generate New Leads

Great content pieces help create brand awareness and authority in a market that is saturated with products and services. This can then generate new leads and increase sales for your brand as more consumers become exposed to you. Remember though, that good content will be less sale-sy, so that consumers are able to authentically engage with your brand. Don’t drown them in cliché. It could have a negative effect on your relationship with them. A good content piece should foster and nurture the relationship so that they ultimately become your brand advocate.

Increased Engagement

No matter what kind of content you choose to document – blog, social media post, billboard, TV ad – it will encourage consumers to engage with the brand. If your content is good, they will pause to check it out, consume the content, understand your brand values better, and ultimately even convert. And believe it or not, they may actually also become your unofficial brand ambassadors when to choose to share that piece of content with their network. Yes, engagement is measured in likes and comments, but another key metric of successful content promotion is engagement vis-à-vis word-of-mouth marketing. The ad you just placed on TV? Maybe a housewife loved it so much that she went and encouraged 5 more women in her network to buy the product. That’s the power of content.

Adds Value to Your Brand

A great, quality piece of content that also adds value to your consumer in some way or the other will also ultimately add value to your brand reputation. That is because your brand will be perceived in a way that aims to help its consumers, rather than impose itself on them. It might not have a direct monetary value, but will definitely do wonders for your relationship with the consumer. Good content can elevate your brand reputation by miles.

Marketing Diuring Coronavirus

Should you market your brand during Coronavirus?

The Covid-19 pandemic has the world in its dastardly grip. From people, to communities and businesses, everything is currently collapsing like a pack of cards. While there are a select few businesses that face an unusually favourable combination of circumstances during this unforeseen pandemic, most businesses are now just trying to survive.

The first sector that is likely to take a hit in these testing times is, without a doubt, advertisement and marketing budgets. This leaves companies with only two choices – either cut costs or try to generate cash.

Inevitably, most companies will end up choosing the first option. They will reduce all their ad spends, curb marketing campaigns, or even worse, cut jobs in the marketing department. And there’s the also more financially risky option, and that is to spend some cash in order to generate more cash. This means the brand will have to put itself out there at this time to try and turn a profit.

What is the ROI you ask? Well, obviously nobody wants to spend more money than they expect to get back. However, there are specific rules that apply to marketing in a scenario like this.

There isn’t much you can do to change the fact that fewer people are now buying; obviously when the public’s focus shifts to survival, consumption is the first thing to be reined in. So, there will be less to be gained from an ad or marketing spend. However, if you carefully control brand perception, it can make a big difference to your brand value, and ultimately your bottomline.

It’s not like people aren’t expecting you to advertise. However, the modern consumer also knows the difference between right and wrong, and will hate to see a brand profiteering in any way from their suffering. Which is why if your brand is perceived to be profiting directly from the global economic downturn, the consumer will see through the game. If your marketing efforts involve grabbing attention surrounding an issue that people are hyper-aware of, and then capitalising on their concern, consumer outrage will most likely ruin your brand reputation.

And they also don’t want you to just pay mere lip service to a crisis of this proportion. This is possibly the worst strategy. And yet it is practiced by most brands since it requires very little effort from their end.
So, now coming to the point whether brands should be marketing themselves amid the Coronavirus crisis, there are a certain set of conditions under which it will be acceptable to the consumer –

The product/service you are offering is a necessity

If you’re planning to go full throttle with your advertising/marketing efforts, particularly if it is related to the pandemic, consumers will want to see a legitimate reason behind attempting this. So, a food delivery brand can safely and legitimately raise their marketing profile at this time as obviously the demand for food is clearly there. But if your brand sells luxury items such as watches, for instance, it will leave people asking, “why now?”

Your brand message is valuable for consumers at this time

Consumers tend to shower more praise on brands who have a clearly defined corporate social responsibility message. In the same way, consumers are also alert to brands doing the exact opposite. If you think that you have a genuine responsibility of making people aware of your products, action or stance during the pandemic, your message should clearly outline this and always keep in mind the consumer’s reduced circumstances.

But remember, consumers are not fools. They are very adept at spotting a spotting a brand’s perceived selflessness – it could be your attempt at discounts, free trials and giveaways, for example.

Your brand message does not hurt anyone’s sentiments

Emotions are running at an all-time high right now. It means that now is the time to be extra sensitive with what your brand is trying to portray. All brands must consider that while consumers are handicapped by their current situation, they are also subconsciously making a stronger appeal for fair play. So, as a brand, you will have to take call – will your marketing efforts be perceived as greedy and opportunistic, or will these efforts pay off in the long run when consumers think of you as a decent brand trying to do right?

So, play fair and always keep the ROI in mind. That way, you can still easily market yourself during a crisis like this.